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  • JPMorgan Chase's (JPM -2.8%) better than expected Q1 had analysts asking whether it might use a special dividend to return capital, but Jamie Dimon shot down the idea, saying the possibility was "off the table" since the bank doesn't yet know the final shape of new capital requirements. "No bank is so strong that it should throw caution to the wind," David Reilly writes.   [View news story]
    Actually, it's BB who nixes or allows any special dividend - Jamie just likes for folks to think he's in control of JPM's capital. Investors like the "Jamie's in control" delusion as well - notwithstanding the obvious.
    Apr 14, 2012. 10:53 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Bruce Berkowitz's Top Picks Returned 33% Year To Date  [View article]
    Respectfully, it would be more accurate to say that BB's top picks have so far "recovered" by 33% rather than "returned" 33% -- and that only due to more than a little help from the other BB...
    Apr 14, 2012. 12:08 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Commercial Loan Growth A Positive Sign For The Economy?  [View article]
    Good article – thanks. It is worth noting that the increased rate of bank lending over the last two years cited in the article immediately follow an unprecedented 20% contraction in bank lending (according to the chart).

    It would also be meaningful to know what percentage of the bank loans within the last two years constitute additional commercial credit in the system versus:

    a) corporate bond redemptions funded by bank loans at lower rates and,

    b) loan renewals where accrued interest is added to the “new” loan.
    Apr 12, 2012. 10:25 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • An Open Letter To ETF Regulators  [View article]
    Thanks for this well-written and substantive article.

    The misrepresentation and downright fraud that the "regulators" have allowed to infest our financial markets drastically limits the investment choices for prudent, passive investors.

    Other than the SEC, what other agencies bear responsibility for the lack of disclosure that you cite?

    The "political capture" by large, out of control financial institutions has all but fully corrupted the very financial system to which the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve have allocated trillions of dollars to save.

    Perhaps a 2008 financial meltdown would have been better for market participants and stakeholders after all.

    I would like to submit this article to my congressmen and will expect a written response from them.

    Thanks again for this highly actionable article.
    Mar 30, 2012. 10:58 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Little Upside Left In Bank Of America  [View article]
    I have nothing personal against you - I'm simply trying to keep the record straight.

    As I expressed in my first comment to you:
    "Best wishes for a long and prosperous finance career!"
    Mar 29, 2012. 11:22 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Little Upside Left In Bank Of America  [View article]

    Thanks for your March 28, 5:23 follow-up comments.

    I became compelled to comment on the “purchase money mortgage” (PMM) issue after “financemc” issued her first insult towards you, primarily because in so doing, financemc gave inaccurate information regarding the PMM definition.

    Financemc even held herself out as someone who had “good credentials” on the matter when she made the failed attempt at correcting you.

    One of the reasons that the Seeking Alpha site appeals to me is because I have often found the comments to be well-informed and generally of higher quality than on other complimentary, market-oriented sites.

    Having benefited from information provided by others, I consider it somewhat of an obligation to point out misinformation and submit corrections regarding comments that I know to be inaccurate; as do many others, which I appreciate.

    I am not one who likes to argue, but since these comments constitute a record of sorts, it is sometimes worthwhile for credibility purposes to attempt to insure that the record accurately reflects your position, and not the position that someone else falsely attributes to you.

    So, for the record:

    1) A “purchase money mortgage” (PMM) is a loan which is extended by any bank, or other lending institution (or third-party individual for that matter) where the proceeds of the loan are used to purchase real property.

    Therefore, a PMM is not in any way limited to seller-financed real estate transactions as inaccurately stated by “financemc”.

    If financemc’s position regarding PMM’s is correct, then neither Bank of America, nor any other financial institution would own any PMM’s, which is patently absurd.

    2) The distinction between a “purchase money mortgage” and a non-purchase money mortgage is important in determining lien priority, usually between the IRS and the mortgagee.

    For example, a “purchase money mortgage” given in good faith to secure a loan for the purchase of real property, has priority over an already recorded Notice of Federal Tax Lien.

    Again, financemc is wrong in commenting that “A federal tax lien is junior to a mortgage on a homesteaded property but only if the lien was levied after the mortgage was obtained.” This statement is accurate regarding “NON-purchase money mortgages”; but not accurate regarding “purchase money mortgages”.

    That was the point in making the "purchase money" and "non-purchase money" mortgage distinction in the first place. But for establishing lien priority, there would be no need for the distinction.

    Although not usually the case regarding commenter’s on Seeking Alpha site, those who hold themselves out as having “good credentials” and “state certified” sometimes submit false information. I appreciate those who take the time and make the effort to correct them.
    Mar 29, 2012. 01:47 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Little Upside Left In Bank Of America  [View article]
    financemc - You’re obfuscation underlies your confusion regarding purchase money mortgages.

    Your ignorance on the matter is only amplified when you engage in personal pejorative and attempt to change the subject by referencing internet articles about tax advantages to homeowners.

    If you are confident of your position, why all the rhetoric?

    Our difference on this matter can be illustrated by the answer to the following question:

    Are loans made by Bank of America to purchase real estate considered to be “purchase money mortgages” for legal purposes?

    My answer is YES, they are purchase money mortgages.

    Your answer is NO, they are not purchase money mortgages because they are not seller financed.

    I stand by my position; and, rather than admit your error, you make crass comments and obfuscate the issue with your misguided internet research. A real class act - but, better suited for sites with fewer professionals.
    Mar 28, 2012. 01:18 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Little Upside Left In Bank Of America  [View article]
    Good morning, financemc –

    Please forgive me if you were offended by my comments to daro. If you are offended when someone references your comments, you might want to exercise more care when making them.

    So, based on your comments, loans made by Bank of America (for example) to purchase real estate are not purchase money mortgages. Again, you are mistaken.

    The banking lobby paid good money to obtain an IRS ruling that gives a bank’s purchase money mortgages lien priority over Federal Tax Liens.

    If you are genuinely interested in being more accurately informed regarding purchase money mortgages, ask a competent bank attorney, and she/he will confirm my comments to be correct.

    Over time, you will discover that education does not end after receiving a college degree - or even after becoming “state certified”.

    Happy investing!
    Mar 28, 2012. 11:06 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Little Upside Left In Bank Of America  [View article]
    daro – you are correct with respect to purchase money mortgages.

    Notwithstanding “re lingo” or what someone with super-duper credentials or a college "re degree" may declare, a purchase money mortgage is not in any way limited to seller or owner financed transactions.

    A purchase money mortgage is a loan which is extended by any bank, or other lending institution (or third-party individual for that matter) where the proceeds of the loan are used to purchase real property and the transaction is properly recording pursuant to relevant state statutes.

    The distinction between a purchase money mortgage and a non-purchase money mortgage is important in determining lien priority, usually between the IRS and the mortgagee.
    Mar 28, 2012. 12:20 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Said The Fed: "Damn The Accountants...Full Speed Ahead!"  [View article]
    CAS, Thanks for another insightful and well-documented article.

    untrusting investor - The “logic to the article” seems to strike at the very heart of the Fed’s stated purpose – to maintain monetary and financial stability within the US economy. According to Fed Chairman Bernanke, to accomplish that, the Fed must maintain the confidence of key market participants and stakeholders.

    The author is documenting the Fed’s unacceptable rationalization for making up its own financial reporting rules as it goes along, thereby opting out of being accountable to the very market participants from whom the Fed requires confidence in order to be effective. A lack of accountability – or worse, the pretense of accountability when we know it is lacking – undermines the integrity of FOMC operations and ultimately, confidence in the Fed.

    The Fed’s lack of accountability regarding its financial condition – as documented by the author – demonstrates the Fed’s lack of integrity which always undermines confidence; and, if continued, could ultimately render the Fed even more ineffective in accomplishing its stated reason for existence.

    So yes, absolutely – evidence that (1) the Fed is unwilling to disclose material aspects of its financial condition, or (2) that it is willing to misrepresent its financial condition (e.g., the MBS account) will most likely “affect the Fed in a.. significant way” by undermining the confidence of market participants.
    Mar 24, 2012. 01:10 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Little Upside Left In Bank Of America  [View article]

    Your comments indicate that you are somewhat naïve regarding the financial crisis of 2008 and its lingering effects on our financial institutions; but, most people are – which is why I occasionally comment on bank stock investing.

    Most investors do not appreciate the fact that there are more risks involved in bank common stock investments than most other sectors, which is generally my purpose for commenting.

    Highly leveraged operations, spectacular regulatory failures, incomplete financial disclosure and near absolute political capture are primary factors that bank investors need to seriously consider before allocating capital to this high-risk sector.

    If you are serious about understanding risks associated with current banking sector investing, I strongly encourage you acquire an open mind and conduct more research than you apparently have up to this point.

    Several sources that you would do well to consider include: “13 Bankers – Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Crisis” by Simon Johnson and James Kwak; also, “Zombie Banks”, by Yalman Onaran (Forward by Sheila Bair). You would also be better informed by reading “Full Faith and Credit”, by L. William Seidman.

    And, by all means, read and understand the latest BAC Annual Report – especially the footnotes (or any of the TBTF bank annual reports).

    If you will make the effort to do your own research by reading the titles I have suggested, you will appreciate my comments more as opinions based on logical and objective analysis, rather than merely “loose talk”.

    Best wishes for a long and prosperous finance career!
    Mar 22, 2012. 04:53 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Little Upside Left In Bank Of America  [View article]
    You are taking my comments out of context and miss-associating them with some bunker mentality, which is entirely inappropriate.

    The purpose of my comments is to alert potential long-term investors in BAC common stock that so-called “stress tests” and publicly provided financial information of TBTF banks are highly subject to misinterpretation due to a material lack of full disclosure by banks and regulators and highly selective publication of financial information.

    The information provided regarding individual banks is much more materially deficient than that provided on companies in other industry sectors. As such, the banking sector generally presents a much higher risk trade or investment than most other sectors.
    Mar 22, 2012. 12:52 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Driving Down The Cost Of Production - Natural Gas Companies Can Still Make Money  [View article]
    This article lays out the best NatGas company analysis I've been able to find anywhere - thanks for publishing.

    I'm sure many of us would also be interested to see how the metrics presented in this article apply to CHK and EOG.
    Mar 22, 2012. 11:33 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Little Upside Left In Bank Of America  [View article]
    As reported yesterday, BAC will sell its Irish consumer credit card unit to Apollo Global (APO) - the latest business unit sale by a shrinking BAC.

    This sale of another operating unit will further reduce BAC’s earnings capacity – and there will be more to follow, according to BAC’s capital plan. BAC dare not sell many assets which are materially overvalued because such would require loss recognition and negatively impact its reported “book value”.

    Regrettably, BAC has devolved into another dead-weight Government Sponsored Entity - a GSE-zombie bank. This essentially insolvent "systemically important financial institution" is in the process of "orderly liquidation" - not so much on behalf of common stockholders as it is on behalf of the regulators- as a regulatory liquidation would most likely be disruptive to the market and would result in a greater loss to the Deposit Insurance Fund.

    BAC's "passing" the so-called “stress test” merely gives regulators the cover they need to avoid nationalization of the bank, followed by a regulator-directed BAC liquidation.

    The Fed's qualified acceptance of BAC's capital plan, submitted pursuant to the most recent so-called "stress test", is contingent upon BAC meeting asset liquidation benchmarks and raising capital as set forth in its capital plan. Otherwise, BAC's capital plan would not have been accepted because it could not have "projected" the minimum regulatory capital requirements.

    The high level of subjectivity involved in TBTF bank accounting cannot be overstated. No one knows BAC’s true “tangible book value”; and earnings are also subject to material manipulation, especially via the loss provisioning account.

    Neither are the so-called “stress tests” reliable for making investment decisions regarding bank common stocks. They, too, are rife with subjectivity and "regulatory discretion" (read rationalization). So-called “stress tests” are mostly to project the pretense of bank stability – and therefore confidence – to an otherwise uninformed public.

    Excessive and unmanageable risks notwithstanding, those so disposed may continue to load up on BAC common stock. Good luck to all BAC traders – you’ve still got a little time left to play. To the “long-term” BAC investors, let’s check back this time next year to see how it’s working for you. For the record, BAC common is now trading at about $9.70/sh.
    Mar 22, 2012. 11:00 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • 5 All Or Nothing Stocks To Ponder  [View article]
    Excellent "no brainer" analysis and logic to support buying BAC common stock - back up the truck, Bubba! For the record, BAC is now trading at about $9.85. Best of luck with this "no brainer" long-term buy - you're going to need a truck load of it also.
    Mar 21, 2012. 02:24 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment